Sunday, 28 May 2017

Beautiful Sorrows (2012) by Mercedes M. Yardley - Fantasy eBook Review


My ongoing odyssey to read the multitude of back logged eBooks I own continues with me having just finished reading Mercedes M. Yardley's dark fantasy anthology Beautiful Sorrows. This collection of twenty seven short stories were written over a number of years and are not all horror based. In fact a lot of them are unrelated to horror at all, yet most contain a feeling of malice and sorrow to them dealing as they do with self destructive relationships, and possessive desires to control and own. There also a load that are more whimsical and fairy tale in feeling, I guess in this review I will focus on the more fitting ones for this blog.

I think what I enjoyed most about Yardley's collection is just how much she can do with so little. I enjoyed the short pace of many of these and in many cases this simplified method led to long lasting effects, such as the perfect half page opener Broken that leaves an unsettling insinuation in what is said, Blossom Bones, and the creepy serial killer story Extraordinary Beast. Many of these stories deal with two main characters and the misery that comes from their interactions. This isn't always done in a romantic way (though there are many that are about a boy and a girl) such in the case of The ABCs of Murder that is about a boy trying to find a way to permanently kill a ghost. Also many of these display the worst of humanity with many murderers, psychos and cruel death. This is seen early on with the sad Black Mary (a girl escaping the remote home of her kidnapper/rapist), again with the surreal Axes (someone tied up in a basement by a psychotic house mate), then the heart break of The Quiet Place Where Your Body Grows (a man dealing with the loss of his murdered child).

Friday, 26 May 2017

The Z Virus: Episode 4 'About Last Night' (2016) - Zombie Show Review


By this point of The Z Virus I am no longer surprised when this low budget zombie show turns out to still be good. While this is arguably the weakest episode yet there is still plenty here to recommend with a few scenes in particular that really stood out. It seems to be ramping up now it is heading to the final stages of its six episode run. Spoilers for previous episodes are bound to occur.

With the mayhem of last night fresh in everyone's minds Alex (Freddie De Grate) must decide if Zac and Apple are allowed to stay in his secure home or not. The arrival of a panic stricken, and injured man changes up the priorities to something else entirely for the whole group...

The reason I say this is perhaps the weakest episode yet is due to the fact that the majority of About Last Night's run time concerns conversations between both sides of the divide; Alex and his wife, and Zac and Apple. These conversations are full of pretty cliche quotes, while the directing of the camera focused on whichever character is speaking felt a bit plain. With Apple being mute though the scene with her and Zac is pretty cool, as Zac is responding to her subtle facial expressions as if she is conversing back with him. It did feel a bit strange that Alex is so accommodating to the people who (however justified) murdered his friend only the night before I have to say.

I felt that by this point with no zombies in either of the last two episodes they needed to make an appearance here as the shows title The Z Virus was becoming a bit tangential. Happily as soon as I thought that we do finally get to see the undead once more. With the entire group knowing nothing about that particular facet of the disaster it leads up to a great cliffhanger with basic mistakes being made that really can be forgiven for once. Regardless of any issues I had with this episode it is still darn enjoyable, I am still impressed with the quality on offer here and eagerly look forward to seeing the next. The Z Virus can be seen at TheZVirusSeries.com, ScreenMagicTV.com, Amazon Prime, Vimeo On Demand, and on the ScreenMagic TV Roku Channel.

SCORE:

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

President's Day (2016) - Comedy Zombie Horror Film Review


President's Day (from Brain Damage Films) had such an almighty stupid idea behind it that I figured it would be a very hard film to mess up, even if it turned out to be poorly made crud it would be very hard to make this boring. Thankfully this comedy horror while not having the highest budget does have some legitimately funny humour to it, I found myself laughing out loud on at least a few occasions.

A group of young friends decide to head out to a remote cabin in the woods to celebrate President's Day. These include a variety of stereotypes that include a jock (Jud Zumwalt), a geek, a slut, an alternate girl, a cool guy (David Zuckerman who also directed and co-wrote this), a girl next door type, as well as a token black guy (Dax Hill). These friends have not been at the cabin that long before they come under attack from zombies, but these are not zombies of the usual type, instead each and every one is a former American President! To survive the night the gang must band together and bring their knowledge of American history in order to defeat their iconic foes.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Blame! (2017) - Anime Film Review


I had originally planned to watch horror comedy President's Day for review today, but I didn't feel in the right mood to do that. Instead here is a review of Blame! a new Netflix exclusive anime movie based on the 1998 cyber punk manga by Tsutomu Nihei. I love anime, it was one of my favourite things to watch, but I don't really watch many films of it, mostly just focus on the awesome series such as Attack on Titan and Berserk.

Blame! takes place in a post apocalyptic Earth, one which has had every square inch covered by an impossibly large city. Hundreds of years in the past a city creating A.I known as Safeguard was created, the people living in the city were able to interact with it via something known as a 'net terminal gene'. One day something with Safeguard's programming went wrong, it started seeing humans as intruders in the city and ruthlessly sent out murderous robots to kill anyone they found, at the same time the city started endlessly, and randomly expanding, a process that continues up to the present day. Blame! follows a small community living in a protected area of the city, due to Safeguard they are slowly dying off as food becomes more and more scarce and risky to locate. One day a mysterious stranger named Killy arrives, he ends up teaming up with the villagers as well as a friendly A.I named Cibo to locate a device that will let the humans once more take back control of the city and end the threat of Safeguard.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Call of Duty: Black Ops III 'Zombie Chronicles' - Video Game DLC Review (PS4)


For literal years I have been saying that Treyarch should make a stand alone Zombies game comprised of all their old maps. Well it seems like they have nearly had the same idea as out the blue a fifth DLC map pack was announced for Call of Duty: Black Ops III, one that is called Zombie Chronicles and is made up of eight old Zombies maps remastered for the current generation. Me and my best friend regularly play the old maps anyway, but having them made beautiful is an amazing surprise. You would think this £25 Zombies Chronicles would have been released as a stand alone game, yet bizarrely it isn't and so a copy of Black Ops III is required. Sure this is going to sell like hot cakes as Zombies is very popular but it would have enticed new players if it had only been stand alone.

So the eight maps remade here are all the ones that feature the stars of Black Ops III Zombies; Tank Dempsey, Richtofen, Takeo, and Nikolai. The story has always been super confusing taking place as it does over multiple dimensions and time lines and there is no effort here to make it any clearer. These maps feature the same introductions as they ever did so we get the splash loading screens, or opening cut scene as it was, just with the HD treatment. So what maps are there then? The maps come from Call of Duty: World at War, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and Call of Duty: Black Ops II with Nacht der Untoten (a German airfield), Verruckt (a German insane asylum), and Shi No Numa (a swamp based Japanese research facility) coming from World at War. Next we have the classic Kino Der Toten (a German theatre), Ascension (a Russian Cosmodrome), Shangri-La (jungle ruins), and Moon (set...on the moon) from Black Ops. Finally is Origins (the trenches of World War I France) from Black Ops II.


Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Forest of Lost Souls (2017) - Horror Film Review


The Forest of Lost Souls (A Floresta das Almas Peridadas) is a Portuguese horror film that was written and directed by Jose Pedro Lopes, was shot entirely in black and white, and that has been described as a coming of age slasher. I wasn't quite sure what to expect and so the transition this follows from philosophical discussions about suicide to elements of the home invasion genre took me by surprise. Despite some brief downtime this stayed compelling right up until the very end.

Planning to kill himself Ricardo (Jorge Mota) has travelled to a remote forest known locally as 'the forest of lost souls' as it is a popular suicide spot. He inadvertently meets a young woman; Carolina (Daniela Love) who says she is also there to end her life. The two strike up a brief friendship of sorts and take a walk around the woods and discuss just why it is they both want to die, and the best way to do it. For Ricardo it is due to him feeling like he has failed his wife and daughter, the far more prepared Carolina has more unclear reasons, her motivations for being there may not be what they at first appear...

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Delusion (2016) - Horror Film Review


Delusion (written and directed by Christopher Di Nunzio) is an award winning slow burning supernatural horror that does a few things that feel different to the norm. First off in main character Frank (David Graziano) we have a middle aged man, not only that, but one who seems utterly normal. This is a nice change from the obsession with putting young, attractive leads front and centre. Secondly the horror aspect of Delusion is so slight that at times, aside from a few merely odd events this could almost be seen as just a pure drama.

Three years after Frank's wife dies he mysteriously receives a letter in the post written by her, so far so Silent Hill 2. The arrival of this letter brings a change in Frank's life, he starts to glimpse strange figures that only he can see, while his dreams are full of terror, with him being pursued by a woman with a painted face. A fortune teller warns Frank that something evil is out to get him, but will he take her warning seriously, or will he be the instrument of his own demise?

Friday, 19 May 2017

Zomburbia (2017) - Short Zombie Film Review


Zomburbia (written, directed and produced by Nathan Wold) is described as a zombie movie set inside a 1950's sitcom. At just over 7 minutes long there wasn't enough time to really get a concrete opinion of just how this feels, I enjoyed it, though it did have a few issues for me. It certainly has an attractive poster though.

Henry (Jeremy Frandrup) and Martha Mandrake (Kari Elizabeth Godfrey) are the stereotypical perfect 1950's husband and wife. Martha is concerned about their young son Raymond (Lincoln Danford) as he has been off his food, Henry is convinced it is down to drug use, but there may be a more ghoulish reason for Raymond's new behaviour...

I enjoyed the sense of place that Zomburbia creates, it has the feel of the 1950's with the husband and wife looking appropriately attired in clothing that brought to mind the look of the video game Fallout (thinking about it, with it's zombies this would have fitted in great with that universe!). Also added to this is both the period music, and the old fashioned way the couple communicate with each other.The music only plays at set points in the short which I felt added a lot, I felt the loss of music in the more quieter scenes made them seem more serious and less comedic as a result. While I liked the tone this went for the humour didn't completely hit with me, I felt the main joke being the couple don't realise the undead are zombies was over played in the two distinctly different halves. This almost felt like two shorts in one with the first part being about the newly deceased son, and the second half being about an intruder in the house, as such there was some slight pacing issues.

However, the film looks great with nice crisp images, while the zombie make up effects are brilliant, especially the child zombie (complete with baseball embedded in his skull), they had an effective looking grey skin colour, and I loved what they did with the eyes, kudos to the child actor for acting his part well, all too often you can see the excitement in child actors faces when they play zombies. Towards the end there is a neat little action scene resulting in a fun special effect that leads up to a great ending that felt very appropriate for the tone gone for, the look on Martha's face in the final shot is spot on.

So while Zomburbia did have it's issues I would say it is worth a watch for the zombie make-up effects alone, and I can't think of too many zombie films off the top of my head that take place in the 1950's, let alone in a 1950's sitcom, so there is that too. Zomburbia is playing (in competition) at the Phoenix Comicon on the 25th May in the 16:30 to 17:30 slot. Director Nathan Wold will be in attendance, if your in the area then be sure to check it out as it looks like the event has a solid line up of films being played, with the right crowd Zomburbia could pop.

SCORE:

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Alien: Covenant (2017) - Sci-fi Horror Film Review


Alien: Covenant is a sequel to Prometheus which was an immediate problem for me. I know it's my fault but I never got around to watching that one, I think it was the ridiculous bit in the trailer when some people are about to be crushed by a rolling pillar but run straight ahead rather than off to the side. It also has to be said that I have never gotten into the whole Alien saga, the first time I properly watched any of them was around 1997 when I brought a VHS box set comprised of the original four films. Since then I have watched the trash that is AVP: Alien VS Predator which did nothing to warm me to the franchise. Still I had heard some good things about this latest movie and so decided I needed to check it out.

Alien: Covenant takes place ten years after the events of Prometheus. Covenant; a colony ship carrying 2000 people is midway through it's journey to a new habitable planet when an accident causes the crew to be awakened from cryo-sleep. The crew discover a signal coming from a nearby planet that also seems perfect for human life, so thinking they can cut down their travel time decide to check it out. On this planet they discover a crashed alien ship, as well as an android named David (Michael Fassbender who also plays another android called Walter) who is the sole survivor of the ship Prometheus which went missing a decade past. Before they know it the landing party find themselves assaulted by vicious alien monsters and must try and regain contact to Covenant so that the survivors can be rescued.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Stake Land II: The Stakelander (2016) - Horror Film Review


I have fond thoughts when I think back to post apocalyptic vampire film Stake Land, yet until I read the Wikipedia entry prior to watching this sequel Stake Land II: The Stakelander I would not have been able to tell you a single thing that occurred in it. This new entry in the series pretty much carries on business as usual with the same sombre atmosphere built up as events run their course. Spoilers for the first film are bound to follow.

Martin (Connor Paolo) made it to the promised land of New Eden at the end of Stake Land, along with his new found love Peggy, while the vampire hunter Mister (Nick Damici) headed back into Stake Land to battle the undead. A good few years have passed and Martin (now in his 20's) is married and has a young daughter. However one night vampire worshipping cult The Brotherhood attack New Eden, along with an intelligent female vampire that is able to control the more feral of her kind. During the attack Martin's wife and child are slaughtered, wanting revenge he heads south to search for Mister...

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Far From the Apple Tree (2017) and The Black Gloves (2017) - Horror Film News and Trailer


Far From the Apple Tree is Grant McPhee's latest feature length film (he was responsible for the unique feeling Night Kaleidoscope). This Scottish made film has been described as 'folk horror' (think The Wicker Man or Blood on Satan's Claws). It was filmed over just two weeks at a remote Scottish house for quite a small budget.

In the movie Sorcha Groundsell stars as Judith; a struggling artist who gets her dream job of working for renowned visual artist named Roberta Roslyn (Victoria Liddelle). While cataloguing Roberta's work she is shocked to keep seeing a girl who closely resembles herself, she learns that this girl is actually her boss's missing daughter Maddy. As she investigates the mystery of just what could have happened to this girl she starts to develop a new persona, and it comes to a point where she must decide if she is to leave her job, or continue and risk loosing who she is.

The press release states that 'Far From the Apple Tree is like no other movie - it's a unique and terrifying horror tale told in an engrossing and nightmarish dreamscape.' McPhee has proven he can make something different to the norm with Night Kaleidoscope and so hopefully he will strike gold once again here. I have included the trailer below, it may be one to watch out for.



On the subject of Scottish horror films there has been some publicity for upcoming Lord of Tears prequel The Black Gloves. For the first film there were a series of entertaining prank videos released where people were scared by someone wearing an Owl Man costume hiding in an abandoned building. It is pretty much business as usual here with some more unsuspecting members of the public coming face to face with the demonic creature. Check out the video for yourself;

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

B&B (2017) - Horror Film Review


B&B is an award winning UK thriller that was written and directed by BAFTA-nominated Joe Ahearne (Doctor Who). It's a different type of thriller than I am used to as it explores what it is to be gay and discriminated against in addition to telling a pretty interesting story.

Marc (Tom Bateman) and Fred (Sean Teale) have returned to the countryside B&B which a year previous they had been refused a room due to the owner; devoutly religious Josh (Paul McGann from Alien 3 and Queen of the Damned) believing homosexuality to be a sin. Having won a prolific court case they are back to claim the room they had previously been unable to have. However the same day they check in, so does a scary looking Russian man (James Tratas) whom Fred starts to suspect is there purposely to do them harm, a notion that gains weight when they discover the suspicious high tech equipment he has with him...

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Barkerton (2016) by Day Rusk - Horror eBook Review


I think it was last month that I once again purchased an eBook reader after my others all up and died on me. I have five years of back log when it comes to digital books and so I am taking a kind of slap dash approach to choosing which order to read them in. Day Rusk sent me his horror book Barkerton at the years start, and today I have finished reading it. As I always say I have not had too much practice when it comes to writing book reviews so apologies if I end up talking too much about the story and not so much about the structure and writing.

An evil presence for reasons unknown comes to the small remote town of Barkerton in America. This evil force is able to ignite the darkness that resides within the inhabitants hearts and after just a few days the place has become a nightmare world where brutality and insanity lurks around every corner. The evil has also caused the dead to rise up from their graves who turn on the living in their confusion. The few pure hearted souls that are immune to the chaos band together to try and find a way to escape the Hell that Barkerton has become...

Saturday, 6 May 2017

We Are the Flesh (2016) - Horror Film Review


I passed up the opportunity to review the very bizarre Mexican film We Are the Flesh earlier this year as it didn't exactly sound like something I would find that entertaining. However seeing it pop up on Shudder, and with it being an eligible contender for the 2017 Fright Meter Awards I decided to give it a shot.

We Are the Flesh takes place in a seemingly post apocalyptic world, one where a teenage brother and sister have stumbled upon the dwelling of insane Mariano (Noe Hernandez) while exploring the ruins of an unnamed Mexican city. In exchange for letting them have a place to stay, and for providing them with food Mariano asks that they fulfil his dark desires. The longer they stay with the man the more his madness begins to infect them...

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Z Virus: Episode 3 'Nowhere to Hide' (2016) - Zombie Show Review


The Z Virus is a zombie web show that features episodes of around ten minutes in length each time. I enjoyed the first episode 'Bunker Fever' and was happy to see that episode 2 'Uninvited Guests' was even better. Each and every time I sit down to watch this I fully intend for the creators to drop the ball, and that the previous greatness was just a lucky fluke. For a show with an obvious low budget this shouldn't entertain as much as it does, yet once again I am genuinely surprised at how darn enjoyable and well paced these are. There will be inevitable spoilers for the previous episodes here.

The third episode takes place in the secluded house of Alex 'AJ' Johnson (Freddie De Grate) where he, his wife and daughter, neighbour David (John Kviklys), and two strangers; Zac and Apple are holed up. Due to the hostile introduction Zac and Apple gave in episode 2 tensions are running high, with David convinced that the duo know more than they are letting on...

In just ten minutes a lot of ground is covered with both character development, flashbacks, and action thrown in with more civil moments. De Grate continues with his quiet aura of respect he generates, but it is the character of David who has the biggest change. In episode 1 all we saw of him was a lone man exploring the strange new post meteor strike world. Here we get to see what type of a man he actually is, and it turns out he is a conspiracy nut with Kviklys channelling John Goodman's Howard from 10 Cloverfield Lane. For all of a few minutes the viewer along with the characters harbour suspicion about the origins of Zac and his companion, yet his story is then corroborated to the viewer by an interesting flashback sequence that involves some pretty nice juxtaposition of cold blooded murder alongside a peaceful mural in a church.

It was good to finally have an episode where I didn't notice any sound issues (both the previous ones had featured muffled dialogue at times). This is the second one in a row not to feature any undead whatsoever, again strangely I didn't mind as this lack of zombies actually fed into one of the story lines going on. This led up to the start of a nice reveal that is altered with a cliffhanging twist that I certainly didn't expect. The Z Virus at times feels like it is a perfect condensation of The Walking Dead, from the title sequence alone it is obvious that was an influence, yet so much ground is covered in such a short amount of time that it is hard not to be impressed. I really hope the rest of this six episode season continues to surpass my expectations. The Z Virus is available to watch at TheZVirusSeries.com, ScreenMagicTV.com, Amazon Prime, Vimeo, and at the ScreenMagic TV Roku Channel.

SCORE:

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Dead Awake (2016) - Horror Film Review


Dead Awake is what I would class a formulaic horror. It has at it's centre an evil antagonist being who the main character gets targeted by, and so they must research a way to stop it's hold over them, much like The Bye Bye Man, The Boogyman, The Ring, and countless others. This movie is very similar to the lot of them and while it isn't the worst example of this particular type of horror film it isn't really the best example either.

Kate's twin sister Beth (both played by Jocelin Donahue) is experiencing night terrors and she starts to become more and more convinced something in her dreams is trying to kill her. Kate, her parents, and Beth's boyfriend Evan (Jesse Bradford) all think it's just in her head but then one night she dies in her sleep. Soon Kate and Evan, as well as a friend of theirs are experiencing the same night terrors that Beth did, they discover that an ancient evil known as the 'night hag' has latched onto them and will kill them should they succumb to sleep. With the help of an expert in the field they set out to find a way to defeat this entity.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare - Shaolin Shuffle (2017) - Thoughts on the new map (PS4)


A couple of weeks back the latest DLC for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was released. This 2nd pack for the divisive latest entry in the series was titled Continuum and as usual included four multiplayer maps and one Zombies map. Again as usual it is the Zombies map I am obviously interested in here. The initial map Zombies in Spaceland! was set in an amusement park during the 1980's, it was awesome. The second map titled Rave in the Redwoods had a Friday 13th vibe to it and was set during the 1990's. Continuing the trend of different time periods this third map Shaolin Shuffle is set in the 1970's. For some reason the setting of the 1970's doesn't appeal to me too much and so I found my response strangely muted when this was first revealed. As always this is my first impressions, not a detailed break down of all that is in this map.

The story is again told via unappealing vintage cartoon type sequences. Having vanquished the chainsaw wielding psycho of the 1990's our four heroes step through a portal that transports them to 1970's New York, a film version of that city that is in the grip of not only zombie apocalypse, but a strange rat type man who is haunting the area. Each of the four characters again resemble fitting characters from the time period, and so Shasheer Zamata's Sally is dressed like a disco queen, complete with huge Afro, Jay Pharoah's Andre is a beatnik, Ike Barinholtz's A.J looks like a pimp, while Seth Green's Poindexter has the best look appearing as a punk rocker.